for a strong, fast pick-me-up
Here’ a quick example that can help show YOU the value of tweaking your tense to help you win more business – and the value of asking two very important questions:
So What? And
Imagine YOU are a boss in a major international financial organisation that competes with so many other organisations creating business analysis and updates.
I got a call from such a person to help his people make their writing stand out from competitors and sound more “insightful”.
I worked with a team of super-smart financial brains.
They were far smarter than I was – yet my journalism experience and skills helped them make their reports “sound” more insightful and more current.
It was the same information – just improved by tweaking the tense and asking those two vital questions.
In a briefing with “the boss”, we got to he bottom of their writing challenge.
The reports sounded not just dull and lifeless – but also out of date. They sounded like “old news” that everyone else had.
It was just information without any sense of insight.
The reports “sounded” just like everybody else’s reports.
To get to the root of a problem – I ask a boss or team leader questions that seem so out of place in a serious analytical environment
Questions such as:
1. How do it make you feel after you read such a report?
2.What do you say to yourself or think to yourself as you read a report?
In this case the answer was:
Now, I’m not an expert in financial analysis (far from it) but one thing I AM skilled at is tweaking language and making information sound fresh.
That’s what journalists do – day after day. You develop reflexes you take for granted – yet the skills that are so valuable in the corporate world.
When this super-smart financial industry boss said those works “So What?” – I recalled the wise words of gruff, (crusty yet colourful) media bosses I’d worked for when I was a young journalist.
These tough media bosses taught me how to make stories more relevant to the audience – You need to ask yourself and answer those two important questions.
So, I helped out these brilliant financial analysts – getting them to add to their reports to answer those two vital questions – SO WHAT? and NOW WHAT?
Answering NOW WHAT? question – helps your writing have a dynamic, future-focus angle. It forces you to think beyond what is or what has happened – to the likely impact.
This question also helps your writing sound more insightful.
The SO WHAT? question helps you make it clear what the information means to the audience. It’s not just the information – it’s the impact of the information.
SO WHAT? forces you to explain the impact NOW.
NOW WHAT? – forces you to consider the FUTURE ramifications
It’s not just about what has happened – but what are the ramifications? What is now likely to happen.
We also tweaked the tenses – and that’s the subject of part 2 of 4 part series on news style writing and tweaking your tense.
For you – NOW WHAT?
If YOU can relate to the “challenge” of this example and if you’d like some help to make your organisation’s writing stand out from competitors – I’d love to run some memorable and effective writing workshops for your people.
As well as helping financial clients, I also help lawyers improve their writing.
Some Legal writing is notoriously “passive” and detached. It’s often complex and designed to sound educated – to impress rather than to express! That’s the way I used to write – until my crusty media bosses taught me the newsy style!
If you enjoyed this post – you’ll probably also enjoy another post about how newsy-ness can help improve your business writing and win you more profile and attention and business.
I found these great J. Jonah Jameson images on a site by another former reporter who said HE also worked for bosses that reminded him of J. Jonah Jameson.
Here’s the link: It’s a good read!
So who is writing this?
Hi, I’m Tony Biancotti and I’m a lawyer turned journalist and business communication consultant.
Sure, I’m a bit of a “nerd” when it comes to business communication – but I get lots of feedback that people like my enthusiastic knowledge of and passion for the power of words and images and techniques of engaging people.